x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

The Beauty Spy: Different body goals require the right massage

Life&styleYou won't see her, but she's there, in the salons, spas and shops, and she's happy to share her secrets on different types of massage.

I have been trying to get the kink out of my neck ever since I returned from a recent trip to Sydney. Economy seats added to the more than 15-hour flying time equals a very grumpy Beauty Spy. So what better way to smooth out my rumples than a bit of pummelling? As it was a Thursday evening, the M staffers were discussing their weekend plans - which all involved a spa session. I tried to delve deeper (well, it's my job) and asked which type? As I received a few grunts of "oily" or "body" it occurred to me that, even though we all love the spa, we don't always know the best treatment to book.

For instance, I needed ironing out, clicking back into place - so I headed off to the Thai Privilege Spa for one of their traditional Thai massages. Fully clothed, you are contorted into positions that would make even Sting break out into a sweat. This type of massage is ideal for improving flexibility and is very energising, so don't make a late-evening booking, or else you'll be up all night. On the other hand, if relaxation is the aim, book a longer "ritual" aromatherapy or aromatic massage because you'll need the extra time to unwind. When you inhale the essential oil molecules, they go straight to the limbic system that influences hormones and the nervous system. If you're confused about which oily unguent to pick, lavender, chamomile or geranium are the most relaxing.

A really good aromatherapy massage can be found at the Anatara Spa in the Emirates Palace hotel. It uses gentle strokes and light acupressure, which make even the most stressed out slip into a light coma. On a recent trip, it dawned on me why they leave the little bowl beneath the bed - it's to catch the dribble when you do nod off. Don't be embarrassed: apparently, everyone does.

Remarkably, Champissage is not a cheap brunch in Bur Dubai. It's a massage technique, sometimes described as an Indian head massage, that uses Ayurvedic styles. These are brilliant, as they are quick and manage to be both relaxing and balancing. Deep tissue massage, on the other hand, is not designed to be relaxing. It mimics a gym session and aims to banish cellulite. It's painful, but in my mind still preferable to a personal trainer ringing your doorbell at 7am.

Finally, look out for "cupping" at Elche Ladies Salon - this that smooths dimples by the suction action of a plastic beaker - and Lipomassage, which uses a machine a bit like a Hoover to eradicate excess wobbly bits.

Anantara Spa, www.anantara.com

Thai Privilege Spa, www.haiprivilegespadubai.com

Elche Ladies Salon, www.elche.ae

Lipomassage (LPG), call 04 445 6862